IRS Publication 971: Innocent Spouse Relief

DEFINITION of 'IRS Publication 971: Innocent Spouse Relief'

A document published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that outlines the three types of tax liability relief for spouses or former spouses who filed joint income tax returns. Couples filing a joint tax return are both liable for the tax liability, referred to as joint and several liability. In the case of a separation, the IRS will continue to consider the tax liability status as joint and several, but in some cases will relieve one partner of any tax, interest and penalties related to the joint tax filing.


The three types of relief are innocent spouse relief, separation liability relief and equitable relief.

BREAKING DOWN 'IRS Publication 971: Innocent Spouse Relief'

Spouses must complete and file Form 8857 (Request for Innocent Spouse Relief) as soon as they become aware of a liability that they think only the other spouse or former spouse should be liable for. Spouses or former spouses have up to two years from the date the IRS first tried to collect the tax liability to seek relief. The IRS is then obligated to contact the spouse or former spouse to notify them that Form 8857 was filed.


Married spouses who file separate returns but live in community-property states may also seek relief.


IRS Publication 971 does not cover injured spouse relief.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Form 8857: Request For Innocent ...

    An IRS tax form used by taxpayers to request relief from a tax ...
  2. Equitable Relief

    A court-granted remedy that requires a party to act or refrain ...
  3. Innocent-Spouse Rule

    A measure of relief built into the tax code that allows a person, ...
  4. Filing Status

    A category that defines the type of tax return form an individual ...
  5. Married Filing Jointly

    A filing status for married couples that have wed before the ...
  6. Married Filing Separately

    A filing status for married couples who choose to record their ...
Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Before You Visit Your Tax Preparer: Do This

    The earlier you start preparing your tax records and documents, the more likely you are to have a smooth tax return experience – and all the tax benefits you're due.
  2. Taxes

    Happily Married? File Taxes Separately!

    Just because you are in love doesn't mean that a joint return is best for both of you.
  3. Taxes

    Taxing Times For Divorced Parents

    Find out how to deal with the tax issues that arise for divorced parents with dependent children.
  4. Taxes

    The Tax Benefits Of Having A Spouse

    Check out the perks designed to promote and preserve your post-work savings - if you're married, that is.
  5. Economics

    How Bernie Sanders Has Avoided Big Money (Mostly)

    Bernie Sanders hasn't entirely avoided PACs with his fundraising, but he has gotten a lot of bang for the buck
  6. Investing News

    Hillary Clinton's Liberal Orthodoxy

    Clinton's economic agenda laid out in July is divided into three broad groups: strong growth, fair growth and long-term growth. And her overarching goal is to "give working families a raise."
  7. Investing News

    Bernie Sanders: Socialist or Liberal?

    Sanders' pitch centers on economic inequality in the U.S., which is both more severe than it is in other developed countries and, if current trends continue, projected to worsen.
  8. Investing News

    Obama Wants to Double Wall Street Regulation

    President Obama wants to double the budgets of the SEC and the CFTC over the next five years.
  9. Economics

    Does Big Money Hurt or Help Clinton and Rubio?

    Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton lead their parties in raising money from Wall Street. Is that a help or a hindrance?
  10. Fundamental Analysis

    The Evolution of Obamacare Since Its Inception

    Find out whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has lived up to its lofty projections from 2010.
RELATED FAQS
  1. When should my tax refund arrive?

    More than 90% of income-tax refunds arrive in less than three weeks, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How Long Should I Keep My Tax Records?

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has some hard and fast rules regarding how long taxpayers should keep their tax records. As ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are catch-up contributions included in the 415 limit?

    Unlike regular employee deferrals, catch-up contributions are not included in the 415 limit. While there is an annual limit ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are personal loans tax deductible?

    Interest paid on personal loans is not tax deductible. If you take out a loan to buy a car for personal use or to cover other ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) be used for Lasik?

    The owner of a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can use money from the account on various eye surgery procedures, including ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cover braces?

    Funds from a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) can be used to cover costs associated with installing, maintaining and removing ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
Trading Center